Wednesday, January 31, 2024



Because I was actively watching a show while stitching, I can't tell you how many times I backed out a dozen or more stitches on this one because I didn't like the curve. Thank the goddess for the forgiving nature of linen.

I'm watching a British limited series called "The Stranger" on Netflix. It only has eight episodes, praise Jeebus. There are too many characters and storylines going on at odds but it's based on a book by Harlan Coben, who has 80 million books in print so I guess he knows what he's doing. I'll suffer through the end of it, but being dragged through a story just to find out who dunnit grinds my gears. I won't give a printed book this much grace.

And I am fed to the teeth with TV shows and movies that lean so heavily on technology--people staring dumbly at their cells for every significant revelation. 

The last time I remember the deus ex machina being used effectively was at the end of The Usual Suspects with the faxed image of Keyser Soze that crawled to life seconds too late. 

Watching people have their lives turned upside down by a text message has become a boring trope. Imagine being from a time when such problems didn't exist? Bless the aficionados of historical fiction.

Because of my hearing deficit and the piss-poor sound quality of many productions, I rely on closed captioning to follow a  TV story. When an actor stares dumbly at a cell phone you're lucky if they flash the message on the screen long enough to read it. And if they don't show the message, the actors seem hard-pressed to convey it to the audience, if their faces are shown at all. 

All my kvetching aside (that's for you, Dee), the book I'm writing (and the ones I've already written) tend to get spaghetti-ish, plot-wise, but I promise myself and my readers that resolutions don't wait for the last chapter.

I've had a plot problem recently and, as always, if I look at it properly and take it with me to sleep, the answers come by dream.

Of course, there will be different flavors of magic and I'll make you believe all of them.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Casting about

 I met a writer/editor friend for lunch at a new-to-me Mexican joint. Em was one of the first people to offer some tough constructive criticism of my writing. We could do that for each other when needed. So, we talked about her upcoming publications. I had long-hand notes scribbled on junk mail while I waited in the parking lot for her.

 Freshly cooked (by anyone but me) food is such a novelty, I'm ashamed to say. Lately making a few baked potatoes to decorate is a big kitchen adventure. I ruined a batch of brownies by not checking to see if the oil had expired until after I used it. Very.   

In the afternoon, I discovered a new and delightful way to fritter away time. Casting your novel. Never a good idea, but I'm in the mood for running bad ones.  

I put the rest of this post where it belongs. Here

Monday, January 29, 2024

Dirty thread in the sun

 Filling an order this morning required a hard inventory. Instead of coming up short, I found a set that had never been named or photographed. It happens.

Which will become its name, "It Happens" and if someone doesn't snap it up in the next few days, my stash is seriously low on greens and blues. And that mystery color on the right might have a future in a stitch spell sooner than later.

This is the glorious view from the Birthday Sewing chair. It's no wonder the cats gather here. I need plants to increase the oxygen for all of us. 

All that clutter on the table will be finding other places over the next few days. That dresser on the left is mostly empty, so sorting, trashing, and stowing.

The first project at the machine will be a couple of summer schmattas if I can find enough garment-appropriate cloth in the closet. I'm not building acres of cloth from scraps for dressmaking this time. 

I treated myself to a new bag. Been hauling the Black Hole of Calcutta around forever and was getting tired of the deflated motorcycle jacket look. It held up, so I'm retiring it to the closet for a well-earned vacation. I'm thinking the latest heart patch will go perfectly on the rather blank backside of this new one. Give it some pizzazz. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

A visitor

Change up! 

Jake had things to do down this way so he dropped Charlie off to spend the day with me and some old friends.

When my boys were in school, I think they were the only kids I knew who got sick on a Friday afternoon.

They would spend the weekend languishing under my care (non-stop cartoons, Tylenol, and chicken noodle soup) to perk up in time to get to school come Monday. Charlie came home from school on Friday with a mild fever and feeling punk. His father's son.

The plan was for a low-key day. Fine by me in this shitty weather. He helped me swing the work table up against the wall clearing space for floor play.  After an hour or so of conversation, we decided to watch a Studio Ghibli film together.  

He is the perfect age to get lost in these sweet, charming animated films, most from the early 2000s. So different from the frenetic games and cartoons he usually watches, he settles in and is spellbound, and with good reason. With themes of myth, magic, family, honor, and the need to respect nature, the artwork, tender-hearted stories, and glimpses of Japanese culture make for that "been to another world" feeling - thanks to the genius of director Hayao Miyazaki.

The first one we saw was "Spirited Away" which won the award for Best Animated Feature in 2001. Brand new to the family, Camilla was still not quite walking from whatever trauma she sustained when she was abandoned. She lay content in Charlie's arms for the whole two hours of the film. Her little nose was still bruised in this shot from Jan 2022.

After the movie was over today, Charlie declared he'd like to try having tea. Camilla assisted while we waited for the kettle to boil.

Thursday, January 25, 2024



The lettering practice went badly last night. But I spent a lot of time just looking at letterforms. Drawing while reclining in bed is not going to give good results. 

I was tired from a late-in-the-day trip to the grocery store. The girl cats are in their beds by dark. Mr. B comes in and jumps on the bed at about 930-10. No sign of him before I fell asleep.

This morning, he didn't report for breakfast. The cat door was open but no one had seen him. This is a creature of dependable habits. He knows when and where breakfast comes from. 

The day devolved into calling for him, worrying, and looking out the streetside windows. My unspoken fear is that cats get taken by coyotes especially when there are pups to feed in the spring. Overnight our near-freezing temps jumped to sixty with overnight thunderstorms.

 I started this one for distraction, but I kept the curves and lines of the letterforms in mind. 

Just before dark, I went outside to drive around the neighborhood looking for corpses. Unlocked my car to have this devil pop up from behind the driver's seat where he spent the whole night.  He loves to hop into the car before I can get out. Last night I stopped at the top of the driveway to scatter birdseed and didn't see him sneak aboard. 

How these hairy people will run your life.

He's mad because I won't let him out now to be a cat.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Something old reimagined

I tried replicating the Santa's Sleigh font. It sure doesn't come naturally, pen on paper, that is. I was test-driving my text stitch here using a crewel needle and the full six strands of DMC, doubled. To be fair, the project will have larger size letters. Twice this. Still, it fell clunky and a colossal waste of thread. 

I'll be happier if I lay the text out with my own font (the top photo) - a bastardized slab serif instead of trying to be letter true to Santa's Sleigh. 

Back in the day, I was a font whore.  Snapping up freebies from sketchy warez websites at every opportunity. Probably caught computer cooties more than once that way. 

Then I fell in love with one that had to be purchased. With MONEY. It's called Decoracha. You can see the charm. I think at the time it was only available commercially and for Mac users. I got over it but will refer to certain characteristics of it in my own font whenever spacing calls for flexibility.  I need to sit with a sketch pad and just draw letters for a while before I even think of stitching anything.

Grubbing around in the cloth closet, I found the perfect piece for the project. It's lightweight contemporary linen so I know it is young and strong, still, I'm going to back it with another layer because it's a big project that's going to take a lot of handling. 

This linen was most likely a table mopper. I like the light linen for that because it is as absorbent as paper towels. Then there was some Soft Scrub discharging. I can tell by the blue halos. 

The whole piece of cloth has a mystery touch that suits my purpose of the spell.  

I'm going to do all of this the hard way, starting with ironing a grid into the cloth. 

Letters to words, to sentences. 
All of it's the driving wheel of the writing train. 

You never know what
minutes are going to matter. 


Sunday, January 21, 2024

Strange view updated for Monday

 Visitors parked across the way. The lavender cast in this color is missing. I don't know when it arrived or left but I must have looked at it a hundred times. Somehow wanting it to fly away like so much vapor. I swear I had a pair of Easter shoes that were the same color. Anyway....

But I've been busy shoveling around words and sentences. It's thirsty work. And damn little to show for it at this point. This book could get out of hand page-count-wise very easily. 

How to add a new adventure only retelling necessary details from the first three books? The main characters went through a lot of changes in a short time. From strangers to married in only five months. That's a lot of heat. Now, how to keep that pace without getting carried away. 

Fuck if I know how to do that.      (out loud!)

Dee's to-do list is enough to send me back to bed. 

The only thing I promise today is to buy and distribute more birdseed. Throw in some cheap peanuts and raisins. Winter is going to be long and hard for the feathered folk.  I don't have a feeder. Just throw stuff on the ground up under the crape myrtles away from the cat crew. That bare spot on the ground in the picture sees a lot of action. If it gets above freezing, I'll put fresh water in the big clay dish. 

 At this moment a gang of bluejays is warring with the squirrels. Doves patrolling. In a while, they will leave and the littles will take over shuffling the leaves around to get at what the big greedy ones missed. Sparrows, wrens, chickadees. Midday I may see bluebirds and cardinals fussing with one another.

This week I will vacuum upstairs and clear off the work table.  Laundry with clean sheets will happen along the way. Maybe.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

summer dreams

I really shouldn't complain. It's not like we've had days of below-freezing temps and inches or feet of snow. The featureless wet/cold of winter here wears on my nerves. It sneaks up on you and eventually sneaks away.

I've been cruising the web for beach vacation stuff. Just looking really. Destin is six hours due south and Savannah is six hours due east. Seven if you loaf but then I need a half-day nap to recover. 
The health and safety issues around car camping are real considerations, especially if I go alone. 
Ah, youth. 

Once upon a time, I drove to Cape Cod with some friends not considering staying overnight. Young overindulging fools slept in a hole in the sand on the beach. Rousted but not arrested by the fuzz before dawn. 
In the ladies' room, I stood on the toilet seat and poured a gallon of water over my head for cleanup the next day. 

On the way home we had to panhandle in traffic for the Mass Turnpike toll. Sheepishly offered two postage stamps and forty-six cents to the toll officer. He took the driver's license info and waved us on to face a ticket later. 

It was a fine night for a beach walk.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Words to thread


This picture was wildly popular on Instagram yesterday. The only reason I can think of is that many people truly have run out of fucks to give. 

I have on several accounts recently, but it's as tiring a carrying an old grudge. Dumping the put-upon, long-suffering persona is leaving some marvelous clear space for other actions. 

Another pillow? A new sentiment will need a new font. A good reason to break out the sketch pad. 

Great. Put another quarter in the jukebox. Commit the piracy of lyric lifting or just be inspired.

And there it was, right under my nose. 

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Other arting

I've used this melamine plate as a palette since we moved here in '93. I was dazzled by the Nam Dae Mun farmers market. Aisles full of food that, for the most part, I couldn't imagine eating, but the inexpensive cookware, dishes, cutlery, and gadgets were like catnip. 

Today I upgraded a piece of dry wood to a walking stick. Or a shillelagh, or wizard's wand. I do very poorly with canes. Trip myself and lose them. A shoulder-high stick helps my posture and mobility. This one should also keep trolls at bay when it's finished. 

I need beads and bells.

This venture was inspired by the King of Wands.

An inner spiritual change is often heralded when this card appears. The King of Wands invites us to act as he would to solve our problems. His vision is one of ideal reality, and his vision is that humanity might always be better than it is. He is the warrior of light who stands up for something that matters, and his appearance is an invitation for you to do so as well. If there is a cause you wish to support, but you are unsure of your position, you may proceed with the knowledge that your base of power is strong. Enjoy the King's power and authority, but be sure to use it for productive means. Take your responsibilities seriously, think of new ways to do things, and never stop believing in yourself. (J.Rioux)

art by David Palladini


We were missed - updated


Back from the country, the cats spent the day letting me know they were peeved with my absence, but Charlie's brief visit was welcomed. He is warily gentle with them.

They have a pair of guinea pigs now, but I don't think they have a lot to offer beyond learning how much care goes into keeping caged animals safe and healthy. 

He wants to have two cats, but that is not my call so he gets to enjoy visiting with mine. 

We spent a lot of time talking. He wants to know what life and the world were like when I was his age. We are time travelers flitting back and forth between now and then.

Home now, I have a weekend to breathe and relax before I get back to the adulting stuff.  Since I quit the day job,  I find it's good to pay attention to the weekend otherwise the days all run together.

I'm not getting out enough and will have to attend to that. 

Georgia's gray and wet winter is delivering. Chores out of the way, I chill. 

Moments after I typed this, Jake called asking me to come fetch him and Charlie. There had been a  wreck. Everyone was cleared by EMTs on the scene. His truck looked pretty bad. I got to them in a half hour and waited there for Missy to come take them the rest of the way home. Life turns on a dime.